<![CDATA[The International Society of Tardigrade Hunters - ISTH Blog]]>Wed, 02 Mar 2016 09:43:49 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[A chat with professional 'tardigrade hunter' Reberto Guidetti.]]>Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:37:35 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/a-chat-with-professional-tardigrade-hunter-reberto-guidettiTardigrades can be found everywhere on our planet….and we mean everywhere.  In fact, professional tardigrade hunter Dr. Roberto Guidetti and colleagues recently discovered a brand new species of tardigrade on the frozen continent of Antarctica!  Based on a DNA analysis, Dr. Guidetti determined that this animal belongs to the tardigrade genus Mopsechiniscus.  However, this species possesses unique cuticular sculpting patterns and exhibits small protuberances on the legs, called papillae, which are not seen on its relatives.  This beast is unlike any other tardigrade previously known to science.  Dr. Guidetti named this new species Mopsechiniscus franciscae.  We asked Dr. Guidetti some questions about his adventures in Antarctica.  

Dr. Guidetti, how did you come up with the name for this new species?

The species was dedicated to my mate, Francesca. She is not a “professional” tardigrade hunter but she likes them, and each time she has the opportunity, she comes with me looking for tardigrades. This time she was not able to come to Antarctica...so this is the reason for the name.

Roberto Guidetti
Dr. Guidetti exploring the Antarctic for new species of tardigrades
How long did you spend in Antarctica searching for new species of tardigrades?  What were your living conditions like while you were there?

I spent one and a half months down there.  It was really amazing. We traveled along the coastline of Victoria Land, mainly by helicopter, trying to find areas free of ice in which mosses, lichens, and small ponds or lakes can be present and in which tardigrades live. I found an unexpectedly high number of animals, from penguins, seals, birds, and naturally, water bears.

The living conditions were very good. The Italian scientific base “Mario Zucchelli” is well organized and comfortable, with laboratories and all kind of facilities, and also a bar for good espresso! 

When people think of Antarctica, they normally think of extremely cold temperatures and a rocky surface covered in ice.  How does your tardigrade species survive in such harsh conditions?  What does it eat?

The temperature conditions in summer can be less extreme.  On a sunny day along the coast, it is possible to stay outside with just a T-shirt, but suddenly the weather can change and go below zero.  Tardigrades can live in such cold and unpredictable habitats thanks to their ability to suspend their metabolism by freezing or drying. They pass the long and cold Antarctic winter in this condition without suffering any damage. As soon as the water is available by thawing, they begin active life, eating different kinds of food according to the species. There are herbivorous tardigrades that eat the content of moss cells, or the algae and fungi of the lichen.  Other species can eat bacteria or are carnivorous eating other tardigrades or small creatures that live among them.
The tardigrade, Mopsechiniscus franciscae. This new Antarctic species was recently found and described by Dr. Roberto Guidetti.
Antarctica is an ocean away from any other continent where we find tardigrades.  How did this species manage to make it all the way to Antarctica?

This is one of the main questions about Antarctic fauna. Did it come from another continent or was it always on Antarctica and survived the glacial environment. For tardigrades, as other organisms, probably the situation is a mix of both scenarios, with species endemic to Antarctica that derive from lineages that were always present on the continent, and other species, especially in the Antarctic peninsula, that arrived to Antarctica later, transported by birds or wind.

Do you think there are other undiscovered species of tardigrades on Antarctica?

For sure. I have on site the description of at least four new species, and the coastal lines of Antarctica remain almost unexplored for tardigrades.

What is your next adventure as a professional tardigrade hunter?   

The life of a “tardigrade hunter” is not always so exciting, but next month I'll go to Mexico, I hope to find new collaborators for new expeditions to enlarge knowledge on these amazing animals.

By Dr. Frank Smith

Frank is a founding officer of ISTH and postdoctoral fellow working in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina. He studies panarthropod evolution and development and is uncovering the mysteries of how tardigrades evolved their unique body plan.

Links and resources
Dr. Guidetti's original research paper describing M. franciscae.    
Dr. Roberto Guidetti’s webpage 

<![CDATA[Alaskan tardigrades!]]>Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:58:43 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/alaskan-tardigrades
This week we have a submission from a fellow tardigrade hunter, Sandra McClure. These tardigrades were found in lichen gathered in Kenai, Alaska! Looks like they have some happy water bears up in the great white north (except for the dead one - lower left). Clearly a eutardigrade species, but hard to tell much more without further study. Sandra is sending us some samples and we'll try to get these guys ID for you. Thanks Sandra!
If you've got any pictures from your own (water) bear hunt we'd love to feature them on our site. Instructions for submission here.
<![CDATA[When tardigrades attack!]]>Tue, 15 Sep 2015 13:06:54 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/when-tardigrades-attack
Some species of tardigrade are carnivorous preying on rotifers, nematodes, and even other tardigrades. We took this video this summer (2015) in Woods Hole, MA while working with students (S. Gayek, H. Shi, F. Barber) in the Marine Biological Laboratory's Physiology Course.
<![CDATA[(Fluorescent) Tardigrade of the Week: H. dujardini]]>Fri, 05 Jun 2015 19:05:57 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/fluorescent-tardigrade-of-the-week-h-dujardiniThis week we have a submission from Dr. Frank Smith. Dr. Smith used confocal fluorescence microscopy to image this H. dujardini specimen. He used phalloidin (green) to label F-actin (muscles) and DAPI (blue) to label DNA. Frank used this and other techniques to study the segmental body pattern and brain architecture of this tardigrade species. You can read about his findings here. Be sure to check out Frank's movies lower in this post.
Below are two movies from Dr. Smith. The first shows a 3D model of the musculature of the tardigrade H. dujardini. The second shows a z-stack zoom through of a tardigrade with labeled muscles (green) and DNA (blue).
<![CDATA[Adorable!]]>Fri, 29 May 2015 20:47:37 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/adorable]]><![CDATA[Tardigrade of the Week: Mountain Water Bear!]]>Fri, 22 May 2015 15:38:59 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/tardigrade-of-the-week-mountain-water-bearMountain tardigrade
This week we have an adorable eutardigrade collected from the mountains of Henderson County in western North Carolina. Enjoy the videos!

<![CDATA[Tardigrade of the week! Batillipes!!!]]>Fri, 15 May 2015 21:37:21 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/marine-tardigradeIn anticipation of our marine tardigrade finding video - here is a DIC image of a Batillipes marine tardigrade!
<![CDATA[Tardigrade of the Week! Focus through a tardigrade!]]>Fri, 08 May 2015 20:56:17 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/tardigrade-of-the-week-focus-through-a-tardigrade
A Milnesium tardigrade at 200X. Collected in Chatham County, NC.
<![CDATA[Tardigrade of the week: J. Heppert finds a pink Milnesium tardigrade!]]>Fri, 01 May 2015 21:32:00 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/tardigrade-of-the-week-j-heppert-finds-a-pink-milnesium-tardigrade
Tardigrade hunting expert and ISTH founding member Jenny Heppert finds and films this adorable Milnesium tardigrade climbing on its "tardigrade jungle gym." Heppert used an iphone and dissecting microscope to make this film.
<![CDATA[Heterotardigrade Z-stack movie]]>Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:05:44 GMThttp://tardigradehunters.weebly.com/isth-blog/heterotardigrade-z-stack-movie